Things I Find Helpful {MS Perks/Spoonie Swag Edition}

Hello MSFit’s and Spoonies! Today, I am going to share with you some programs that you might be eligible for because you are disabled. I am uncomfortable with the word “disabled” being attached to my persona because I am so much more than the fact that I have to live with Multiple Sclerosis.

I hate when people praise me for doing something that if I didn’t have MS, you wouldn’t be clapping for me doing. “OMG, she washed dishes! Look at her go take a walk around the block!” Actually, you would never catch me doing this in real life, even if I wasn’t rawkin the walker.

So since, I have this ball and chain to drag around with me, one day about 8 years ago (I’ve been diagnosed for roughly eight and a half years) I went looking for prizes! Some of these may be state specific but maybe, they will give you starting points of where to look to see if you can qualify for these perks and discounts too. Most of these discounts are not advertised. You can just call your cable provider and ask if they have a discount for if you have a disability. When I called our cell phone provider, they did have a discount for disability but they had a better discount, because my Hubs is a veteran so we went with that discount.

DISCLAIMER: I make no promises that these are still active by the time you read this post but I did verify all of these still being active as of February 2021 before I posted this. As with everything Covid related processing times may take longer to process, I’d assume. Also I am not very computer savvy so I didn’t include links because I don’t know how but I have given enough information on all of these that if you Google, you should be able to find them.

Utilities: If you live in California, you may qualify for a Medical Baseline discount with your energy providers if you have a family member living full time at your residence if you use certain medical equipment, are temperature sensitive, have a life threating illness or have a compromised immune system. Southern California Edison and SoCalGas will give you more kilowatt hours at a lower price. You will need a doctor to certify your medical condition. Eligibility is based on medical condition not income. You will need to recertify every two years or so. You should check with your local utilities to see if they have any similar programs.

Amazon Prime: If you have a Government Assistance card like, SNAP, WIC, TANF or Medicaid you can get a 50% off discount on your Amazon Prime membership. It comes out to $5.99/month. You get 2 day shipping on purchases. You can stream Amazon Prime shows. One benefit I really love is that they give you unlimited free photo storage. I don’t know if you’re like me but I take so many pictures on my phone and run out of storage pretty quickly. Since I signed up for the unlimited photo storage, they save them to the Amazon Photo app and I can erase them from my phone to free up space. When I need them, I can just open the app and pull them off to share or print.

California National Parks Pass: For persons with permanent disabilities you can purchase a 5 year pass for $3.50. You need to requalify and pay the fee again every 5 years. This pass entitles the bearer to a 50% discount for vehicle day use, family camping, and boat use fees at California State Park operated units.  They also have other discount programs that are based on eligibility. It’s definitely worth a look if you camp or fish.

Image: 2 National Park passes on a wooden background

America the Beautiful National Parks Access Pass: Similar to the California parks pass, you can apply for a National Park Access Pass for free to visit national parks. If you process your application online, there is a $10 fee. You can purchase the free pass in person at some national park locations. To qualify you must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with permanent disabilities. Applicants must provide documentation of permanent disability and residency or citizenship. This pass covers entrance fees or a personal vehicle fee areas (or up to four adults at sites that charge per person). Children age 15 or under are admitted free.

This pass is good at over 2,000 recreational parks. We have used it a few times in the past. A few years back we went to Yosemite. We spent 7 hours driving around the park. It was so beautiful. We have also used the pass in San Diego. When life goes back to normal we are planning to go to Zion Park in Utah because we only live about 6 hours away from there.

MSAA Cooling Program: I am very heat intolerant living with MS. I know for others they are cold sensitive. The MSAA (Multiple Sclerosis Association of America) has a cooling program where you can apply and they will send you a cooling vest. It is a vest you can wear over your clothes. You put ice packs in the pockets and it will help cool your core down. It’s not the sexiest vest BUT it does work at cooling you down. You will need to qualify based on income and with a doctors note.

Image: Sarah holds an ice pack to the nap of her neck to cool off

Medical Copay Assistance: Living with Multiple Sclerosis can be very expensive. Most of the major Multiple Sclerosis DMDs (Disease Modifying Drugs) have programs that can help you with your insurance copays to help cover the cost of them. You will need to check with your medicine manufacture to see how you might qualify. I am currently on Kesimpta and they automatically enrolled me in their program for the discount.

Standing in Lines: I know this sounds silly…If you go to a theme park, you can ask where you can go pick up a Disabled Access pass. After obtaining the pass, you (or your companion) go up to the person standing at the front of the line entrance and they will give you a specific time to come back to get on the ride. It does not get you on the ride right away. If the wait is 45 minutes they normally tell you to come back in 45 minutes but then you can go sit in the shade until it’s your ride time. There is no way I can roll all over an amusement park and stand in lines. My leg would be toast immediately.

Traveling as a Disabled Person: If you are medically disabled, you can get early access to airplanes (and I have been told cruise ships) so you’re not trying to get to your seat in a single file line of rushed people in an 18″ wide aisle. When you book your travel tickets, let them know in the special need section that you need disabled access. The gate agent will usually call your name about 5 to 10 minutes before loading the plane or the cruise ship. Also, anytime we travel by plane, I call the customer service number and have them assign us 2 or 4 seats together. If my Hubs and I are traveling alone he is my caretaker. He hands off my walker to the loading person and deals with the luggage. We have 2 kids (one with a disability) so if the 4 of us are traveling together, they group our seats together so we are sitting next to our children. In my experience, if I ask them to waive the assigned seating fee, they always have. I almost always have had to ask for the fee to be waived but I just mention that because it is an American with Disability issue, it’s covered under the ADA act to not pay more for reasonable accommodations.

Image: A walker with a foot in a leopard print shoe on a wooden floor

Princess (or Prince) Parking Pass: If the Department of Motor Vehicles says you qualify for needing a Handicapped placard, people, you park in that designated spot! Remember two things: 1) Not all disabilities are visible and 2) THE DMV DOESN’T JUST GIVE ANYONE THE HANDICAPPED PASS. I hate to say you earned it but by not using it, you are only making it harder on yourself. By having the placard, you get perks too: you don’t have to pay at street parking meters. You can use the green loading zone as a parking spot if you can’t find an available handicapped spot.

Do you have any Perks, Swag or Discounts you can share?

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